Ellyn Winters-Robinson: Promote Storytelling in Your PR Strategy

CFCML11042014-4 When developing your company’s PR strategy, Ellyn Winters-Robinson says that you first need to establish your goals. What are you trying to achieve? Do these goals align with your overall marketing strategy? Some potential goals can include attracting investors or talent, showcasing your expertise, or managing conflicts or perceptions around your branding. Your PR strategy should be customized based on your goals. CFCML11042014-26 This past Friday, the CFC Media Lab hosted a day-long ideaBOOST Media Training workshop. The day was hosted by Ellyn Winters-Robinson from Ignition PR, a marketing communications and PR firm specializing in the technology sector. Throughout the time we had with her, Ellyn trained ideaBOOST cohort 3 companies on how to develop a well thought-out PR strategy, as well as how to work with media when pitching stories and conducting press interviews. CFCML11042014-131 Here is a taste of what she had to say:

  • In House or PR Agency: When deciding whether to keep PR in-house or outsource it to an external agency, both options have their pros and cons that requires consideration. A pro for keeping PR in-house is that it is often perceived as being more credible than an agency’s PR. However, a con is that in-house PR can have limited reach and resources. On the other hand, a pro for using a PR agency is that it may allow for greater creativity and they generally have a wider reach. A con is the sometimes high cost and agencies can be perceived as being overly aggressive at times.
  • Build a Storyline: Successful PR strategies leverages an enticing story when approaching media for press. When developing your storyline, consider telling the tale of a hero’s journey such as when an underdog achieves success. One can also look at the following for sources of inspiration: Surveys, the news cycle, being newsworthy yourself or talking to your customers.
  • Tactics For Getting Press Attention: To get your company’s story and message to market, you can consider the following tactics: Position yourself as a thought leader, write a news release, ask for a product review, pitch a story directly, find press opportunities on HARO and Twitter, promote a product launch, and offer contributed articles or customer stories. Each tactic experiences varying levels of success, depending on a case-by-case basis.
  •  Create a Positioning Statement: When prepping for an interview, create a positioning statement. This is a general statement which provides context for your main message. It functions as a good starting point for an interview and will help your interviewer hook your story into a larger issue or trend.

CFCML11042014-37 During the workshop, ideaBOOST participants were also put through faux press interviews on camera. This was to test out and improve their on-camera body language and performance. It took a few attempts, but by the end of the exercise our cohort 3 teams were bonafide experts. When the next interview opportunity arises, they will be ready for their close-ups! CFCML11042014-101 Apply for ideaBOOST today!

Are you trying to get your technology start-up off the ground? Have you got a product idea that will revolutionize the digital entertainment space? Then apply for ideaBOOST today!

Founded in partnership with GoogleShaw Media and Corus Entertainment, ideaBOOST is a business accelerator for technology platforms and interactive applications focused on enabling and enhancing the entertainment industry. For more information, please visit www. ideaBOOST.ca or contact Leonardo Dell’Anno at ldellanno@cfccreates.com.

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Photo Credit: Aida da Silva

Business Coach Warren Coughlin on “Y You Profit”

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When launching a new business strategy, Warren Coughlin says the following is something one must keep in mind. Business comes from two broad categories: repeat customers and new customers. Both types will require a different acquisition strategy, as they will have very different needs and expectations. Combining the strategies for the repeat and new customers creates the Y of “Y You Profit”.

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This past Tuesday marked the third Entrepreneur Series at the Spoke Club. Each month we invite serial entrepreneurs to join us for an intimate discussion, and to offer up advice on launching and running a successful company.

This month’s entrepreneur was Warren Coughlin, a business coach, consultant, trainer and facilitator. He works with ethical entrepreneurs and mission driven organizations to strategically build businesses that matter: those that make a lot of money while helping make the world a better place.

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Throughout the evening Warren outlined key drivers for profitability and holding the right mindset for success. Here is a little bit of what he had to say:

  • Focus On Profit: When trying to grow your business, focus on profits. A lot of people get excited about big sales numbers. But there are lots of businesses that have seen big sales growth with declining profits. It’s the bottom line that counts.
  • 10 & Then: Coughlin suggests developing a marketing strategy, which includes 10 or more marketing tactics to diversify your efforts. The rationale is that if 3 initiatives fail, you will still have 7 that are effective. However, it is also recommended that if you are a new business, do not attempt to execute all 10 tactics at once. You will just end up overwhelming yourself. Build slowly and measure.
  • 7 Ps of Profit: To achieve profit success the following Ps need to be addressed: A product mix that’s appropriate for you customers’ needs, promotional/marketing efforts, established business processes, people to run said processes, some strategic planning and the entrepreneur’s personal growth. To round it out, these factors must also be supported by the final P, your principles. This will lead to more satisfaction in your life.
  • Entrepreneur’s Quality of Life: As an entrepreneur, you deserve to live a high quality of life.  To do so requires you to intentionally live what he calls a “Top Right Life”, one in which you are both satisfied with your results and engaged in your activities. Living Top Right will allow you to experience personal fulfillment driven by a sense of purpose, ownership, accountability and responsibility. An example of such an entrepreneur is Richard Branson, who is highly engaged with his work and seems to always be having fun in life.

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Ultimately, all of this means you have to be intentional about your business and your life.  Give up excuses and reasons and focus only on what will produce the results you want.  When you do, you realize both the business and the life of your dreams.

For more information about Warren Coughlin, visit www.warrencoughlin.com or @warrencoughlin on Twitter.

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Photo Credit: Aida da Silva

ideaBOOST/Mind Pirate Unveils Apps For Glass Explorers in San Francisco

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Mahubay is a Tagalog greeting used at gatherings and parties, meaning either “Cheers!”, “Welcome” or “May you live.” It’s also the former name of the music venue, Mahubay Gardens, which was the favourite haunt of various punk and new waves bands of the 70s including Blondies, Avengers, Dead Kennedys, Nuns and Crime. Now in 2014, it’s known as Broadway Studios and was the space where we recently spent the evening with a room full of Glass Explorers and Enthusiasts.

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This past Thursday, The Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab (CFC Media Lab) and wearable technology company, Mind Pirate, hosted ideaBOOST/Mind Pirate: An Evening of New Wearable Apps. An event to announce four innovative, diverse, genre-defining apps created in the ideaBOOST/Mind Pirate Production Lab for wearable technology.

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The lab is an extension of the CFC’s digital entertainment accelerator, ideaBOOST and provided companies with the budget, mentorship, and tools designed to help bring their ”smart-glass” ideas to life, including early access to Mind Pirate’s wearable technology platform, Callisto.

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The evening was hosted expertly by Drew Baldwin, Glass Explorer and Founder of Tubefilter, the leading authority on the online video industry, YouTube and web series. He faced an audience made up of an eclectic mix of Glass Explorers, Glass enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, technology investors and developers.

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The apps, which range from immersive gameplay controlled by the nod of a head to real time video and photo effects, were all available for demos and downloading onsite. Guests were also treated to an on stage video preview of each glassware, including Mind Pirate’s very own Global Food Fight.

Apps created by the participants in the ideaBOOST/Mind Pirate Production Lab (and available for download) include:

A to B: Chase Yourself
A to B is glassware that allows you to record routes during any activity, from running to skateboarding. You are then able to race against these recorded routes to challenge yourself.
Created by Normative.
DOWNLOAD.

Little Bandits
Little Bandits Glass is a turn-based duelling game for two players. Each player chooses two moves per turn, then watches the duel play out. Will you aim, shoot, or try to dodge? Pick your moves and out-maneuver your opponent!
Created by Little Guy Games.
DOWNLOAD.

SHARD
Let SHARD on Google Glass reveal a whole new world. SHARD applies live filters to the world around you, changing the video feed you see with real time effects YOU control. Switch between JJ Abrams inspired lens flares to kaleidoscopic imagery. Move around, play with the effects, capture your creation in a SHARD photo saved on your timeline, and share your masterpiece with others. SHARD — play with the world you capture.
Created by CFC Media Lab.
DOWNLOAD.

State of Syn: Singularity
State of Syn: Singularity is an adrenaline pumping hybrid story/action-puzzle game that propels the user into the heart of the action as a powerful hacker fighting to save the lives of an elite team of covert freedom fighters. This unique experience is made possible by combining video playback, cinematic sound design, direct to user messaging delivered by the story’s lead character and head-gesture game control to trigger in-game events, story reveals and real-time action-strategy gaming.
Created by Smokebomb Entertainment.
DOWNLOAD.

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During the evening we also showcased Mind Pirate’s Google Glassware and most epicly ridiculously fun game, Global Food Fight. This is a free-to-play massively-multiplayer, location-based 3D action game that allows players to engage in food fights with friends, foes, celebrities and politicians from around the world.  This app was the first game created on Mind Pirate’s Callisto platform and is now available for download here.

We congratulate all participants for successfully completing the ideaBOOST/Mind Pirate Production Lab. To learn more about the program and download the apps, please visit: www.ideaboost.ca/mindpirate

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Photo Credit: Jason Henry

Erica Ehm on Entrepreneurship & Audience Engagement

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As an entrepreneur you should be prepared to work more that you ever have in your life. If not, then put simply: entrepreneurship is not for you. Instead, Erica Ehm suggests try being an ‘intrapreneur’, why not work for an entrepreneur rather than take on the daily grind yourself.

Earlier this week, the CFC Media Lab hosted its second Entrepreneurship Series at the Spoke Club. Each month we invite serial entrepreneurs to join us for an intimate discussion, and to offer up advice on launching and running a successful company.

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This month’s entrepreneur is Erica Ehm, Creator and Publisher of YummyMummyClub.ca (YMC) – the online destination for modern moms looking for adult stimulation. Thousands of women have become devoted members of YMC, and Erica has become the passionate voice of a whole new generation of moms. She is one of Canada’s most recognized personalities, having started her career in the mid-80’s as the voice of her generation on MuchMusic.

The main theme of the evening was the importance of loyalty and treating people well (employees, partners and audiences). As the saying goes: You reap what you sow.

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Here is a taste of the insights Erica had to offer at the event:

  • Social Media As Conversation Tool: When on a social media platform such as Twitter, don’t forget to give and take. It should be used for creating a meaningful conversation between you and your audience. If you ask a question, be present to receive and respond to answers. You’ll have a much better user engagement if you yourself are engaged with them in return.
  • Don’t Sell Out: When talking to brands as potential clients, don’t compromise your company values. Your audience will have certain expectations of you and will not react well if you trade on them for sponsorship dollars. Don’t be afraid to push back on your clients as you have the strongest understanding of what they will respond to and it’s in the client’s best interest.
  • Treat Staff Like Gold: If you want to retain good talent, treat them like gold. Make them feel like an important part of the company. This will build a sense of loyalty in the individual towards both the company and their employer.

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While Erica’s practices have served her well and leant to her current success as an entrepreneur, it should be noted that entrepreneurial success can also be attributed to good timing. In Erica’s case, she was online and on Twitter before her competitors, and happily found all the other Yummy Mummy’s looking to share advice on motherhood.

For more information on Erica and Yummy Mummy Club visit www.YummyMummyClub.ca and Twitter: @yummymummyclub.

Over the upcoming months, CFC Media Lab will be hosting more ideasBOOST Entrepreneur Series events. Stay tuned as we keep you up-to-date on new dates.

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Photo Credit: Aida da Silva

CFC Unveils SHARD for Google Glass at #AcademySocial

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This past week, the Canadian Academy of Film & Television hosted a highly exclusive soiree as part of Canadian Screen Week. Entitled #AcademySocial, it was an interactive event celebrating and recognizing creators of original, sharable, Canadian content for digital media platforms.

At this event, the CFC Media Lab unveiled SHARD, the new app created for the ideaBOOST/Mind Pirate Production Lab. Designed for Google Glass, this applications applies live photo filters which plays with your perception of light and reality.

Our Glass roving teams spent the evening taking photos of party guests, live-filtering their image and posting it online for all to see. SHARD was a huge hit!

If you’re interested in trying out this app for yourself, on March 27th we will be launching six apps, including SHARD, from the ideaBOOST/Mind Pirate Production Lab in San Francisco. Stay tuned, as more details about how to access the app will be shared in thefuture .

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About SHARD
Let SHARD on Google Glass reveal a whole new world. SHARD applies live filters to the world around you, changing the video feed you see with real time effects YOU control. Switch between JJ Abrams inspired lens flares to kaleidoscopic imagery. Move around, play with the effects, capture your creation in a SHARD photo saved on your timeline, and share your masterpiece with others. SHARD — play with the world you capture.

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About ideaBOOST/Mind Pirate Production Lab
This is a 3-month bootcamp for developers and companies that want to navigate the incredible potential of games on the next consumer mega trend of wearable technology. Created in part by the CFC Media Lab and Silicon Valley-based Mind Pirate, the ideaBOOST/Mind Pirate Production Lab marks the first-ever program focused on developing games and consumer apps for the emerging smart glass consumer market.

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WHY: The Center of Your Agency Pitch

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Why should be the central story around which you craft your pitch. Agencies need to understand why they (or most importantly their clients) will benefit from your product. This means advance preparation from any entrepreneur on the look out for agency buy-in. Know their clients and know how you can enhance their business!

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This past weekend, the CFC Media Lab hosted a series of workshops themed around working with creative and media agencies. ideaBOOST cohort 3 companies had the opportunity to learn about how to interact and form relationships with the agency world, as they participated in a stellar interactive training session with Selina Jane Eckersall and Melissa Shapiro, Co-Founders of Startup Workshops, and met with top agency representatives including: Raymond Reid (Managing Director, Neo@Ogilvy), Matt Di Paola (Managing Director at Critical Mass), Shane Cameron (Managing Director, OMD), Tyler Turnbull (President, Proximity Canada) and Dino Demopoulos, (VP Strategy & Innovation, Tribal DDB).

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Here are some insights offered by our guest mentors:

  • The Press Is Not Your Audience: When developing your product, focus on building an audience with your consumer base first, and only after then the press. Journalists will not write about you if you don’t have existing traction within a market.
  • Choose the Right Platforms: Not all social media platforms are the best use of your time and resources. When developing your online strategy, consider what social media tools will be the most efficient and effective way to reach your audience. Are there too many layers between you and your market? Is your identified target market residing on the platform at all?
  • Avoid Corners: When presenting yourself to a creative or media agency, don’t describe yourself and your capabilities too rigidly. This will only result in you painting yourself into a corner. Agencies will have a too defined perception of you, resulting in them thinking you are only useful for a certain type of task. This closes you off from other potential opportunities.
  • Don’t Forget THEIR Needs (THE CLIENTS): Creative and media agencies are the gatekeepers to a world of brands and partnership opportunities. If you want them to introduce you to their clients, demonstrate how you will bring them value. How will you assist the agencies in meeting their goals? How will you help the brands engage with their audience?

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Wish your company or project had access to the same opportunities as ideaBOOST companies? Well, you’re in luck. In the next few weeks, we will be opening up applications for participation in the 4th cohort of ideaBOOST. Stay tuned as we release more details in the near future. In the meantime, visit us at www.ideaboost.ca.

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indiegogo: Validating Your Product’s Market Potential

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Successfully crowdfunding your project on indiegogo will validate your project idea to VCs. The willingness of those to spend their hard earned money demonstrates the presence of a market. This was amongst one of the many teachings from Ayah Norris, Marketing & Community Management at indiegogo.

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Earlier this week, the CFC Media Lab hosted an indiegogo workshop for ideaBOOST cohort 3 companies. They were taken through a presentation about the platform’s various services and benefits, as a well as a rundown of what factors lead to a successful campaign.

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While talking at ideaBOOST, Ayah offered some of the following insights:

  • Your Networks: At the beginning of your campaign, most fundraising will take place within your own networks. Completed campaigns were successfully able to acquire contributors outside of their immediate associates.
  • Mitigate Risk: indiegogo can be utilized as a tool to gauge the market’s interest in your product. If your campaign fails to reach its goal, that can be a sign that your idea doesn’t have a substantial market at this time.
  • Cost Out Your Perks: Before launching your campaign, don’t forget to cost out the perks offered to contributors and incorporate it into your total ask. These are often accidentally overlooked, when they in fact require time and money to execute.
  • Be Realistic: Setting an ambitious goal doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll raise more money. Instead, it’s often the case that a modest amount is more surmountable. A large ask usually requires the campaigner to already have a substantial online profile.
  • Promotional Mistakes: Campaigners sometimes take part in rookie mistakes hindering their performance. This can include the following: Starting your campaign at $0, over-promoting too early on, spamming your networks, panhandling and only taking part in one-way communication.
  • The Three Ps: For an indiegogo campaign to be successful, the following three elements should be perfectly in-line: Pitch, perks and promotion. It is more difficulty to succeed if you lack in one area.

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The CFC Media Lab recently partnered with indiegogo to launch an ideaBOOST campaign page. Stay tuned, as in the near future we will begin populating this page with campaigns to assist cohort companies in their continued growth and development.

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Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify, Doesn’t Let Problems Fester

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Last week marked ideaBOOST’s first Entrepreneur Evening at the Spoke Club. Each month we invite serial entrepreneurs to join us for an intimate discussion, and to offer up advice on running (and selling) a successful technology company. This was also an opportunity for our community of ideaBOOST’s past and present to mingle with each other.

Our first speaker of the series was Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify, a Waterloo-based next generation eLearning company that combines gamification with brain science to revolutionize the way companies think about and deliver training to employees. She has an extensive history of taking in turmoil companies such as PostRank and RSS Solutions, and turning them around into successful exits.

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The overarching theme of the evening was based around Carol’s professional philosophy: If something doesn’t work. Just deal. Over the years, this wisdom has served her well. It forces Leaman to act on a problem when needed, whilst giving her the discretion to pull back when a realistic solution isn’t possible.

Here is a taste of the insights Carol had to offer new startups at the Entrepreneur Evening:

  • Marketing Matters: Don’t underestimate the value of marketing your product. Even at a grassroots level, its impact can be monumental. However, you should also balance out your marketing needs with the budgets you have available. As a small startup, you don’t want to spend on pricey services such as PR right away, as at your stage there won’t necessarily be a return on investment.
  • Cheap Ways To Market: There are several methods for new startups to market itself at low cost. Carol suggests applying for awards, competitions, speaking engagements, and conference appearances as often as you can, while also utilizing the capabilities of social media.
  • Transparency is the Best Policy: When interacting with investors, be confident about your product. But at the same time, don’t oversell yourself as it will present you as being naïve and will ultimately come back to bite you when you fail to deliver. Being transparent and natural is the best policy, as it demonstrates a good understanding of your company and the market.

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As an angel investor herself, Carol indicated that not all companies are salvageable and not all product ideas are good. When evaluating a company, she looks for the following four success factors:

  1. Does your product have an existing market?
  2. Is it a good fit for the market?
  3. Will the entrepreneur be an effective leader?
  4. Is the timing of your product right?

Over the next two months, CFC Media Lab will be hosting more ideasBOOST Entrepreneur Evenings. Stay tuned as we keep you up-to-date on these events.

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Hosts Are Successfully Implanted with PODS from BMC Labs

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“Developed by BMC Labs, POD is an emotional sensory learning and data-mining organism designed to enhance your life.  These biotech implants guarantees personalized recommendations which are 99.999% relevant at all times.” – BMC Labs

To mark the successful completion of Body/Mind/Change, BMC Labs recently hosted a POD Implantation Evening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. For the first time ever, POD hosts had the opportunity to meet their newly customized PODs and have it implanted for immediate use. After the installation procedure, they were then encouraged to mingle, enjoy drinks and oeur d’oeuvres, whilst taking part in the ceremonial serving of a POD-shaped cake representing the formation of their new bond with POD. BMC Labs reported that the hosts have experienced few side effects from the implantations, aside from a handful of nosebleeds and an isolated case of delirium.

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Lauren Auchinclos, Dr. Janna Sensum, Florent Appich and Danny Severi were all on-hand to enjoy the festivities and meet the hosts. As well, Ana Serrano, Lance Weiler, Brendan Canning (Broken Social Scene), along with others from the creative team, were also spotted at the event.

Surprising to many, Dr. Emily Grovenor was also present. Late last year, she was reported to have mysteriously disappeared and was much believed to be deceased. BMC Labs has not returned our request for comment.

CFC-BodyMindChange_2014Feb06_miketjioe-133About Body/Mind/Change
Body/Mind/Change is a co-production between TIFF and Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab (CFC Media Lab), with creative direction and experience design by Lance Weiler. Presenting Partner for Body/Mind/Change is the department of Canadian Heritage’s Canada Interactive Fund with support provided by the Government of Ontario. Executive producers are Noah Cowan, Ana Serrano and Shane Smith. Ana Serrano is the producer.
Register for a POD at bodymindchange.ca.
Body/Mind/Change is a digital extension of TIFF’s major exhibition David Cronenberg: Evolution. For more information, please CLICK HERE.CFC-BodyMindChange_2014Feb06_miketjioe-25
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ideaBOOST Kicks Off with Value Proposition Canvas, Pitch Training and Network Mapping

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Having the mechanics of a strong business model can offer start-ups a significant competitive advantage. That was one of the many lessons learned this past weekend at the first set of workshops kicking off the third cohort of ideaBOOST.

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The three days encompassed an intense array of training sessions teaching the absolute must-knows for launching a successful digital business. Our stellar roster of ideaBOOST cohort 3 companies participated in the following programming designed to both sharpen their business acumen, and exercise their vast industry knowledge:

  • Virginia Lee Montgomery, expert graphic facilitator from New York-based ImageThink, mapped out the extensive ideaBOOST ecosystem, demonstrating its value to cohort 3 companies.
  • Alan Smith from Strategyzer broke down the basics of building a business model with the use of three simple tools: The Business Model Canvas, Value Proposition Canvas and Testing Canvas. Their uses were demonstrated through two case studies, one focused on the B2B sale of solar energy and the other discussing how Nespresso influenced Swiss consumers to spend more on coffee products.
  • Business Coach, Warren Coughlin, lectured on the art of delivering an effective business pitch to potential investors and corporate partners. At this time, ideaBOOST companies took their pitches out for a first test drive and were given tips on how to improve their performance.

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To wrap up the long weekend, cohort 3 was given the opportunity to test out early versions of their pitches to ideaBOOST Founding Partners. Over the next three months, these start-ups will continue to refine their presentations and business cases in preparation for April, where they will pitch to a large audience of 400+ at ideaBOOST Launch Pad.

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Join Us For ideaBOOST Cohort 4!
Are you a start-up looking to accelerate your technology platform or interactive application for the entertainment industry? The next cycle of the ideaBOOST program may be for you. The application process for the 4th cohort of ideaBOOST opens in mid-March 2014. Stay tuned for more details.

Photo Credits: Aida Da Silva & Mike Tjioe

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